One of the most important resources available to classroom teachers is the knowledge already contained in the minds of their students. Childrens' own ideas and prior experience provide the starting point for the topic. From there, they are actively involved in producing their own visual texts. The context created provides many opportunities for the children to use all their senses both in the exploration of their environment and in expressing their ideas about what they discover.
The class feels personally involved in the creation of the Storyline and as a result confidence grows in what they are learning. The "story" demonstrates a relevance to the child's reality which provides proof of the general usefulness of these skills and learned concepts. Further, due to the open-ended nature of the problem solving episodes, the class benefits from the opportunities to work at higher levels of thinking and development. The topic of study provides a vehicle which maintains a high level of interest while presenting frequent opportunities for effective skill practice.
This method of teaching is a process or structure that meaningfully integrates curriculum. Sound learning theory and effective teaching strategies have been synthesized into a truly engaging teaching model for both the educator and students; who have made the collaborative storymaking exciting and highly motivating. Together we created a visual text which is far more meaningful to them than any textbook. As a class, we watched the story unfold as their ideas appear in visual form around the walls of our classroom. The level of involvement and sense of ownership felt by students encourages them to take a greater responsibility for their own learning. Best of all, the whole process is fun and stimulating for everyone involved.
Isn't that what learning's all about?
-Ms. Hermes, 1st Grade Teacher